By Amanda Heger
What a lovely book. Without Borders takes the reader deep into the rain forest of Nicaragua, where old prejudices are challenged and eyes are opened. We meet Annie London, an American pre-med student, who signs up for a month on a medical team run by old friends. Felipe Gutierrez remembers his old crush as a typical American girl, resenting having to take her, or any privileged American, out into the jungle.
From first page to last, this book washed over me like a warm bath with its beautiful narrative of the landscapes of Nicaragua to the slowly building relationship between Annie and Felipe. When we meet Annie she’s worried about her sick father, concerned she’ll not get into her medical school of choice, and unsure of what awaits her in Nicaragua. When she arrives with too much luggage, Felipe is convinced she’s no different from those that came before her, yet his organization is dependent on Americans financially, demanding he tolerate their presence. Even so, he goes into each trip with a boulder of resentment on his shoulders. As Annie quietly proves him wrong, Felipe must question all of his previously held beliefs, while she learns that there are different ways of life besides the one she grew up in.
There is beautiful character development for these two characters. Surprisingly, it’s Felipe who has the most to learn about himself, though it’s Annie who encounters the bigger challenges. Felipe could have easily been an unlikable character, but Amanda Heger handles him with such care that the reader can see past his boiling resentment of the “gringos” to his love of his country and fear that he’ll disappoint his people. She makes it possible for the reader to even understand his questionable decision in a tough situation and that’s just good writing-making a character sympathetic in an unsympathetic circumstance.
The romance is tender and almost a backdrop to the characters’ individual journeys, though neither would get there without the other. The supporting cast is entertaining and play off the main characters nicely, especially Juan, the native dentist who carries a machete and loves practical jokes. And I’m excited for book 2 in the Wanderlove series, Semi-scripted, which features Felipe’s sister Marisol, who lights up Without Borders with her hilarious, slightly misspoken “Americanisms” and flirtatious nature.
4 stars (I really liked it!) for Without Borders. Heat level: 3
Without Borders was published in April 2016 by Diversion Publishing.